Every day, doctors and patients in Lawrence fight a battle against breast cancer. Statistics show the disease that will affect one in eight women.
"Many of us will be faced with this, if not directly, then indirectly with our friends and loved ones," says Dianna Swatsenbarg, co-chair for Lawrence Memorial Hospital's annual fund-raising event Stepping Out Against Breast Cancer.
Doctors at LMH are equipped with several state-of-the-art machines to help detect breast cancer before it spreads.
Dr. Marilee McGinness, a surgeon at LMH, says the sonogram and the Mammatome Breast Biopsy machines are used to help detect breast cancer before a woman can feel or even see any abnormalities.
"It's really made dealing with breast questions and problems much better," McGinness said. "In fact, having the sonogram in the office, I can frequently come up with a diagnosis at the first appointment."
Between the sonogram and the Mammatome machines, doctors can detect 95 percent of all breast abnormalities. The good news is, 80 percent of all breast tumors are benign.
Swatsenbarg says community support is vital in the fight against breast cancer.
"The support aspect is really important as the community comes together," she said. "It's also important that we provide a means of funding for women that are under-served in Douglas County."
Swatsenbarg says women who aren't covered by insurance, or who can't afford a mammogram which costs about $100, can contact Health Care Access, 841-5760. If a woman meets certain criteria, she is eligible for a voucher for a free mammogram at LMH. "(Women) are able to get access to mammograms that they wouldn't otherwise be able to afford," Swatsenbarg says.
A portion of the money raised at the hospital's annual fund-raiser helps support Health Care Access' voucher program.
"Our particular event has been growing each year," she says. Last year alone, the event raised $6,000. "Our goal is to raise even more money this year, because we know the need is out there," Swatsenbarg said.
As for McGinness, her hope is that every woman will fight breast cancer right in the privacy of her own home. She says a self breast exam is one of the best weapons in the battle against this disease.
"You don't have to be an expert. Just examine yourself every day for a while, twice a day if that's what it takes," she said. "If you notice something different, then come in and let us check it out."